Jun 27, 2012

What To Do With Your OWN Beach?

Remember that the best relationship is one in which
Your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Dalai Lama 


Beach "art"
We finally make it to this beautiful bay which is part of a Natural Marine Park so there are no houses, and almost only nature – yeah! We read that there are at least 31 species of dolphins in this region (from the approximate 90 in the world!) – just to give you an idea of the richness of this area.
Nikki exploring new territories
And you can only reach it by water – another yeah! The only businesses here are composed of nature guides and people that teach how to scuba dive or let you camp and hike. There are also a few boats that come up from La Paz to show tourists around the area.


Fig tree - coming out of pure red rocks
On the way here an 8” flying fish landed in the cockpit, startling Mike and Nikki, the only two up and about at the time, another much smaller one landed on the front deck next to a squid so overall a quiet passage critter-wise.


Small sailboat leaving the bay
We have seen nearly a dozen turtles since passing Isla Isabella between La Cruz and Mazatlán. Not sure if it is a particular season for them as we never saw them before. We love these ancient animals and their naïve-like, simple nature. You see the head when breathing, then you see their tail when they dive down. You see their head again, then their tail – back and forth, slowly and seemingly effortlessly. It is serene to watch. We find out there is an area on the East side of this island where they breed and are protected; unfortunately, this is not a location you can sail to so we do not see it.

We are finally, but it's short lived, back in the land of seals and sea lions. There are many pups around so we have to give them wide birth – the males are overly territorial at this time of year.

The rays, although less numerous than on our passage from San Jose Del Cabo to Mazatlán, are back and just as playful making somersaults in the water and belly flops that sound like 0.22 caliber shots.


Bay where we are anchored viewed from above.
The sights of the day turn to the sounds of the night. We hear the barking of seals and sea lions reflect against the rock walls of the island, the fluttering of schools of flying fish being chased by larger prey or just startled, the ‘shots’ of jumping rays, the shriek of birds flying around, the lapping of waves, the desert cicada’s songs replacing the croaking of jungle frogs/toads, and the breathing of dolphins circling the boat. It is fascinating to go from the visual world to the auditory one when the lights go out. The grand finale was being surrounded by bio-luminescence so concentrated that it seemed as though Déjàlà was floating on light. It was ephemeral but spectacular.

In Ensenada Grande, we are blessed with having a small beach nearly to ourselves. After a beautiful hike up the canyon to the other side of the island, mostly bouldering while following an old stream bed, we can sneak (no dogs allowed in the park) Nikki there for a quick soak and a rub in the sand to cool off before heading back to the boat. The water in Mazatlan was 86.1 degrees; here we are between 71.5 and 76.1 – quite a bit cooler – we are told it is because it is deeper here. Also the color is stunningly bright turquoise/green. We think it’s beautiful but snorkelers and divers don’t particularly like it for the excessive amount of plankton that create such gorgeous colors make for poor visibility while diving.


Oyster shell as large as my hand
We watch a pair of blue herons nesting; listen to the screech of a couple of ospreys fishing for dinner while the sunset slowly lulls us to complete calmness. Despite the length of time it took to get here, it has been a good first stop on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez.


Figs forming...
Now in El Mezteño, another small bay a little to the south we are enjoying a beach to ourselves. What would you possibly do with your OWN beach? As we knew the weekend crowds were quickly approaching, we didn’t want to share a larger cove/bay with other noisy boats, Seadoos, etc so we opted to hide in a bay small enough for only one, maybe two small sailboats to anchor if the weather is good. We managed to find an anchorage just for Déjàlà!

Again the water is an indescribable bright turquoise green and you can see down 6-8 feet, which is not that much if you compare to the South Pacific but from our experience so far, it sure makes things pop-out at us, like the anchor chain, that we hadn’t had a chance to see before…

At first we tried another bay but a large speedboat raced ahead of us and took the prime anchorage spot. We just turned around and went to the next best place and we are glad we did. It is so beautiful and peaceful here, although we sweated it a little when we first came in as a Mexican Navy boat followed us in and idled. They started filming what we were doing and it got a little unnerving. But they soon calmed down, took an afternoon siesta, then went for a swim and, 3 hours later, finally left (great work if you can get it!).


Odd white 'paper-like' bark tree on ground...
So back to my question – what would you do if you had a beach to yourself? Well, we hike, swim, take the dog for a swim, listen to music, have dinner, paddle around, etc. We play with the amazing echoes this narrow valley offers and Nikki wonders where all these strange sounds are coming from. We just don’t worry since no one else is there to see what we are doing! In six nights at anchor, we were blessed with four to ourselves despite being so close to La Paz, a major area for cruising. Can’t get much better than that.


Very thin arch
More arching...
I feel I need to take the time to emphasize the true beauty of this place. Lacy pinkish rocks cascading over sandstone outcrops with their base rooted in stunning turquoise water. When you hike these rocks, they are so fragile that if you tap on them, they sound hollow. These pinkish rocks are dotted with sage green desert plants, mainly cardon (somewhat like a saguaro in the US), desert figs, and surrounded by pure white beaches. Some of the rocky crests are frosted white from the bird guano accumulated over the years. If you forget for an instant what the white is made of, the color adds a lot of dimension to the relief of each surrounding rocks.

Many of the caves carved out by time and the elements are filled with huge oyster shells, some the size of dessert plates (8-10 inches across) and crimson stalactites. Boulders strewn around the various streams that come down the mountain are multicolored: from white to black, with purple, gray, ivory and pink. A good number of the beaches have small vibrant green mangroves fed by waters from the high tides where many species of birds come to feed. The sounds and colors of this desert island are indeed very rich.


Where East meets West. 
Caleta Partida between the N and S parts of the island
In addition, we visited Caleta Partida where the North end of the island is separated from the South end by an ancient eroded volcanic crater. Although not as scenic, it is an interesting geological formation to see. A short trip to Ensenada del Candelero (Candlestick Cove) before we head out to another island – Isla San Francisco (winds permitting!). We find a water well and near it a few desert fig trees with fig buds just beginning to develop – bees love the area for it is lush and some of the bushes are in bloom. We too encounter antelope squirrels, hummingbirds, lizards, fiddler and ghost crabs, various unidentified birds, vultures, hares, and goats.


Buzzards awaiting... 
Goat caught in net
What's more, we come across a female goat stuck in a net so we alert the few people who work on the island. Nets are set up so goats do not come close to the beach. This goat will be taken to a ranch in nearby La Paz. Goats from the island are considered very good breeding stock. As early as only 5 years ago, people used to hunt goats by guns for there were far too many for the island to support; now they are caught by nets and brought to ranches in exchange for food… When we let the people know about the goat that was trapped, they were very happy for the possibility of a good upcoming trade for food.

We end the day with a mango margarita on the beach – speaking to some tourists from Italy on a three-week honeymoon. This is their last few days and you can tell they would like to be blessed with more time to visit.

Another beautiful sunset, a starry night and during the night I hear more goats calling each other – otherwise it is pure quietness and tranquility in the bay.
Three islands within cove...
More desert meeting the sea...

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